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  • Words Matter: Terminology in Language ArtsInformational Text communicates information. Informational text may include newspaper and magazine articles, digital information, non-fiction, reference materials, and more.

    Literary Text is primarily fiction, which includes short stories, fables, folktales, fairy tales, novels, myths, drama, poetry, and more.

    Close Reading requires students to read a text multiple times. In a close reading, students will analyze the text to determine what it says, how it says it, and what it means.

    Text-Based Questions require students to read a text closely to gain deep understanding. These questions cannot be answered without a close reading of the text and will require students to apply information directly from the text rather than simply recalling information from the text.

    Academic Vocabulary are the words tradition-ally used in academic conversation and text. Often, these are the words that are not used in

    daily conversation, but they are the words we encounter when reading. For exam-ple, a small amount of re-search might be referred to

    as a modicum of research. Instead of a claim being

    false, it can be a fallacy. It’s important for students to know the academic variations

    of these and other words.

    Increased Text Complexity is about ensuring that students read a wide range of texts that

    are not too easy and not too hard. Students will be asked to read

    more difficult texts, but their teach-ers will support them as they work to read and understand texts that

    are at or slightly above their reading levels.

    A Closer Look at Close ReadingClose reading is not a new strategy for Gwinnett County students. However, with the alignment of GCPS’ AKS curriculum with the Com-mon Core Georgia Performance Standards, it’s a learning strategy that’s getting a lot of attention, and for good reason! Close reading is used by students to dig deeply into a text that requires analysis. For many books, poems, stories, and articles, we can read the piece just once and under-stand pretty quickly what it is we need to know. At other times, when the text is particularly important or perhaps more complex, one read-ing is not sufficient. When we read a text closely, we read it multiple times to expose the meanings of the text. In a close reading, we pay very close attention to both what the author says and how the author says it.

    So, what does close reading look like in our schools? Check out some examples of how students read, analyze, and annotate their reading as they work to understand what they read.

    A Parent’s Guide to the Common Core:

    Speaker and Audience:the speaker in the poem uses 2nd person point of view (“you”) to address the reader directly; the constant repetition makes it feel as if it’s a private talk between the speaker and each individual reader

    Tone: I would characterize the tone as: strident, confident, determined, almost conspiratorial; the speaker wants me to listen carefully to the message before I set out on my own journey… which will be different than hers, of course.

    Occasion: the speaker may have been prompted by an actual walk down a road during a storm and used that experience to create a metaphor for difficult journey, one with distractions and obstacles

    Purpose: the speaker seems to be saying that the hardest journey of all

    may be to listen to your own inner voice, especially when there is a “storm” of other voices advising you otherwise.

    Subject: It’s clear the poet feels that I need to pay attention to my own journey, my own vision of who and what I am and

    what my journey is all about as I stride “deeper

    and deeper into the world.” Only when I listen to my

    own voice and chart my own course will the stars

    burn through and guide me safely inside to who I am—

    The Journey by Mary OliverOne day you finally knewwhat you had to do, and began,

    though the voices around youkept shouting their bad advice—

    though the whole housebegan to trembleand you felt the old tug at your ankles.“Mend my life!”each voice cried.But you didn’t stop.You knew what you had to do,

    though the wind priedwith its stiff fingersat the very foundations,though their melancholywas terrible.It was already lateenough, and a wild night,and the road full of fallenbranches and stones.But little by little,as you left their voices behind,the stars began to burnthrough the sheets of clouds,

    and there was a new voicewhich you slowlyrecognized as your own,that kept you companyas you strode deeper and deeperinto the world,determined to dothe only thing you could do —

    determined to savethe only life you could save.

    Close Reading of a Literary Text

    A close reading of a literary text is a complex and active process in which a student draws conclusions and inferences from a work in order to construct meaning, form connections, and develop critical-analysis skills. A student might note a writer’s use of language, elements of craft and style, literary devices, and the structure of a text to support an analysis. In this high school example, the student forms a personal connection, both to the text and with the speaker. This connection leads the student to infer what might have led the speaker on a journey based on textual evidence in the poem. The student considers the tone of the poem to determine a possible purpose, noting the symbolism throughout the analysis. This exercise in close reading shows the value of exposing students to rich text and equipping them with skills that allow for intellectual interaction with what they have read.

    Source: Vancouver (B.C.) School District, Canada

    Pre-Advanced Placement English (9th Grade)

  • Close Reading at the Elementary Level4 When examining this elementary school sample,

    you may notice that the student is interacting with the text in many ways. First, notice how certain

    words stick out in the student’s mind. He writes a more common or familiar word near the “tricky”

    word in the text , a word that may not be part of his everyday vocabulary. In addition, the student is asking questions about what he

    has read and making comments at specific points that have captured his interest.

    Several comments made by the reader are connected as he moves through the text.

    The act of reading closely causes the reader to read and re-read passages as he

    annotates or “marks up” the text.

    3Close Reading of an Informational Text— In reading informational text, it’s important for the student to identify and analyze the main points of the text, looking for the facts that support these main points. We ask students to “read like a detective” and to be prepared to write as if they are a “conscientious investigative reporter” who can cite specific facts to back up what they write. In this middle school example, the student underlined important ideas and made notes in the right margin about them. Paragraphs are numbered so the student can make quick reference in producing facts or observations to support what she’s read. Unknown vocabulary words are circled, and the student has tried to guess the meaning of words, based on clues in the sentence (contextual clues). The student makes personal observations in the left margin. Based on this close reading, the student should be able to answer text-based questions, citing specifics from the text to reinforce her points in writing.

    Gwinnett County Public Schools • 437 Old Peachtree Road, NW, Suwanee, GA 30024-2978 • 678-301-6000 • www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us

    Source: Excerpt from by Kate DiCamillo

    Candlewick Press, March 2000 Located on http://www.definingthecore.com

    Source: “Secre

    ts of the Most S

    uccessful Colle

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    Students” by An

    nie Murphy Pau

    l for Time.com

    Located on http

    ://kellygallagher

    .org/resources/

    articles.html